Paris is the city of love, isn’t it?
Crammed full of the period architecture that lies only in the very centre of London, even the crumbling, colourfully graffiti-covered buildings on the outskirts of the city bring a warmth to the heart that can’t be found when staring at a similarly spiced-up tower block in Hackney.
The problem is it’s very hard to feel wistful and doe-eyed like a girl from a dramatic love story when, everywhere you look, there are condom machines.
Les preservatifs (Condoms)
There’s one on every street corner, a few in every train station. I even spotted one between a boulangerie and a baby care shop! But when this was brought up in conversation with a native, the answer was not as expected…
…they kiss goodnight and this gives him an erection. Does this mean it was not romantic?”
After a night being dragged across a dance floor by an enthusiastic French stranger, we walked home along the Seine, the stars glistening as he named the buildings on either side, pointing. The special dispensing machines then became a topic of conversation. Perplexed by the question, with words all tangled in accent, he said:
“So a guy meets a girl for a date. He brings her flowers. She smiles, and she is beautiful, and this gives him an erection. Does this mean it was not romantic?
“They laugh and talk, and when he takes her home they kiss goodnight and this gives him an erection. Does this mean it was not romantic?”
A British Blush
Condom machines on every corner may seem extreme to a conservative society like Britain’s, but that’s just the difference between the French snog-in-the-street culture and one that blushes at public pecking. Sexuality, French style, seems to be the perfect blend of all that’s romantic, torride, and more importantly, safe.
Britain has always culturally shied away from public displays of affection, and with this unwillingness to talk about bedroom antics also comes a lack of knowledge among young people, despite efforts like Channel 4’s Sex Education Show, which has been informing the nation since 2008.
“There’s a huge amount of commercialised sex…”
Being open with the sexy stuff goes hand in hand with being open in relationships, but according to sex and relationship psychologist Dr Petra Boynton, it’s not the amount of information, just where it comes from that counts.
She said: “There’s a huge amount of commercialised sex, High Street sex shops, mainstream stores selling sex toys, the internet and huge amount of sex imagery. This is balanced by dreadful sex education – some people still think masturbation is bad for you.
“This creates a huge amount of sexual dissatisfaction and ignorance, because people look around and see this stuff and panic.”
Since the UK has double the number of teenage pregnancies than France does, a few more condom machines on the next stroll down the Thames definitely wouldn’t go amiss.